Although the National Football League is not exactly known for giving out second chances, however it appears former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman has quickly received one. The struggling Minnesota Vikings signed Freeman after his release from Tampa, and appear ready to move on from Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder, handing the reigns over to the 25 year old former Kansas State star.
Just a few weeks ago, Freeman was butting heads with his old coach Greg Schiano in Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers are off to a woeful start, and it appeared the two were no longer seeing eye to eye. Schiano wanted to move forward with his guy, Mike Glennon, whom he selected in the 2013 draft.
The arguments between the two stole national headlines and bringing as much negative publicity as any team can handle to Tampa Bay. The character and style of both men was called into question many times over the course of this season, and as a result the Buccaneers ultimately had to make a decision.
Choosing the coach over the quarterback, Freeman was let go.
Minnesota came calling, and quickly signed Freeman after his departure from Tampa. A sign that the team is moving on from disappointing former first round draft pick Christian Ponder, the Vikings hope the change will help salvage a season that has not gone according to plan.
After making the playoffs via the wild card in 2012, the Vikings encore performance has the playoffs as distant a possibility as one could have drawn up heading into 2013. Defense has been a major reason for the early season struggles, but the offense has not fared much better.
Ranked 21st in passing yards, and shockingly outside the top ten (13th) in rushing yards despite having the best back in the game in Adrian Peterson. Defenses have keyed on stopping AP, and without even a slight threat of a passing attack from Cassel or Ponder, the running game has struggled to meet last year’s standard.
At just 1-4, the Vikings will see what Freeman can do. A year ago he eclipsed 4,000 yards passing and had 27 touchdowns, so stretching the offense vertically should not be an issue. This bodes well for Greg Jennings, who has struggled to produce without Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball. Rookie receiver Cordelle Patterson also should stretch the field and give Freeman two options deep.
Should Freeman be able to even make defenses think about the deep ball, Peterson’s numbers should increase. If that happens, the Vikings will begin to control the clock and keep their struggling defense off the field. That gives this team a better chance at winning than it had before.
Freeman will be under the microscope of the biggest stage in the NFL for his debut, when he leads his Vikings into New York to face the winless Giants on Monday Night Football. The game is clearly winnable for Minnesota given the Giants record, and Freeman should be able to find success throwing the ball against this hapless secondary.
The move makes sense on paper, now it is up to Freeman to show that he can produce on the field and avoid the headaches off of it that cost him his job in Tampa Bay.
Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express